Retro Sunday Review – Shadow Squadron (Sega 32X)

More spaceship flying shenanigans today – this time, it’s from Sega’s doomed-to-fail 32-bit add-on for the Megadrive, the 32X.  I loved the 32X because it highlighted how companies should NEVER give consumers too much choice; people couldn’t work out whether it was a different console in its own right, or a poor man’s Saturn that would be immediately obselete (it didn’t matter in the end; both the 32X and Saturn failed miserably).  Anyway, the 32X was simply a huge 3D processor for Megadrive games, but the smattering of titles released rarely took advantage of this fact.  I mean, how does NBA Jam get better between a 16-bit and 32-bit version?  It doesn’t – it’s still using bloody sprites.

One game that DID use the 32X for what it was designed for was Shadow Squadron.  It’s a free-roaming space shooter that moves like greased weasel shit, is tough, BUT also very very entertaining.  You face-off against a dozen space fighters and a few capital ships, sometimes with some interesting set-pieces (a big lattice space station for example) and a couple of different weapons.  You can opt for the one-player fighter or the two-player Y-Wing-alike gunship (which is a bold assumption by the developers, considering gaming was still nerd country in ’95).

Play time = 20 minutes

Verdict = It’s great!  Clean graphics, fast gameplay – a bit like an arcade version of X-Wing.


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